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This guide provides an overview on discrimination, the Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Tribunal.
Human rights are those rights we frequently speak about as guaranteed to everyone (or all New Zealanders, depending on the scope of the discussion). They are protected by both international law and domestic laws. In New Zealand, two domestic laws protect human rights – the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 protects the rights of individuals against acts done by either the Government of New Zealand or, any person or body in the performance of any public function pursuant to law, and the Human Rights Act 1993 protects individuals from unlawful discrimination in most aspects of life.
Human rights in New Zealand are protected by the Human Rights Act 1993 and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.
The Human Rights Act 1993 prohibits discrimination in most public and private aspects of life on thirteen grounds. It applies to acts done by the Government of New Zealand and any other public body authorised by law to make decisions in respect of people.
The Human Rights Commission is a specialist public body; its functions are to promote and protect the human rights of individuals and groups.
The Commission provides a dispute resolution service that is able to provide information, advice and mediation to help people resolve human rights issues.
The Human Rights Review Tribunal, which is part of the Commission but administered by the
Department for Courts, is empowered by the Act to decide civil proceedings taken in respect of claims of unlawful discrimination. In some instances, a person or group or the Commission may be represented before the
Tribunal by the Director of Human Rights Proceedings, particularly if there is an issue of some importance to the public interest at stake.
Claims of sexual harassment, racial harassment, and discrimination in employment may be taken against an employer under either the Human Rights Act 1993 or the Employment
Relations Act 2000; an employee must decide between the two options.
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